Cyber Criminals Exploit Brazil Nightclub Tragedy

Cyber criminals in Brazil wasted no time exploiting interest in a horrific fire at a nightclub in southern Brazil that left more than 230 dead and more than 100 wounded. Emails, tweets and Facebook messages have spread across the Web since early Monday morning purporting to link to a video of the club at the moment that the fire took hold.

But the video doesn’t exist. Instead, the links install a malicious piece of software that reconfigures users’ browsers. When a customer next types in a Web address of any of the larger Brazilian banks, they’re unwittingly diverted to a fake website that then collects valuable Internet banking usernames and passwords, according to Internet security firm Kaspersky Lab.

The first email related to the Kiss nightclub fire was detected at 9 a.m. Monday morning, barely 24 hours after the disaster happened.

“We tell users to contain their curiosity,” says Fabio Assolini, an analyst at Kaspersky Lab. “Cyberciminals exploit curiosity.” People looking for information should go to trusted media websites rather than clicking on links in social media, even if they’re sent by people they know, he said.

According to Mr. Assolini, there will probably be more cyber-attacks surrounding the Santa Maria tragedy.

These types of crimes can be staggeringly profitable. According to the Brazilian federation of banks, electronic fraud, which includes Internet banking scams among other items, cost banks some $703 million last year. A large number, though less than 0.007% of total transactions in Brazil. According to Mr. Assolini, the law requires banks to reimburse customers for these types of fraud.

Mr. Assolini says Brazilian banks on the whole invest in security, and are constantly launching new security measures. But it’s a game of cat and mouse, as criminals are always finding ways round even the most sophisticated mechanisms, he says. “Each bank has different mechanisms which can be more difficult or more complicated for cyberciminals to get around,” he said.


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